Today I am going to teach you How to Blog Better with Natural Light. You don’t need fancy lighting to take light and bright pictures, but what you do need is to understand is how to use natural lighting in your favour.
I am blessed to live in sunny Johannesburg, South Africa, which means that I have access to around 3000 hours of natural light per year. (there are 8760 hours in a year to put that into perspective)
If you are living in a sunny country like South Africa, then there really is no reason to have to worry about using artificial light to take pictures for your blog. (obviously, this is not the case if you can only shoot at night, or if you are shooting in a dark restaurant/studio setting)
- PROS of Natural Light – It’s free, available everywhere, and it’s easy to use.
- CONS – An obvious one – you can’t shoot at night.
Here are my top tips on How to Blog Better with Natural Light for your blog or social media.
How to Blog Better with Natural Light
1. Shoot Near a Window
Now, this may seem obvious, but notice the following:
- I am about 1 meter away from the window.
- The room has got good consistent light from around 11 am to 3 pm.
- I have a light voile curtain which helps to diffuse the light, which is important because you don’t want super white, overexposed pictures. I have been meaning to buy a diffuser for a while, but at the moment it is not considered an essential item, so my curtain is doing an ok job.
- I have turned off overhead lights. Good natural light doesn’t need competition. Lights can affect your white balance and making your photos look flat or yellow.
Here’s a recent picture I shot at 2 pm, 1.5 meters away from the window on a partly cloudy day and only my voile curtain as a diffuser.
Just make sure it’s a white voile, as cream may give your pictures a yellow tone. As soon as lockdown has lifted, I plan to get a diffuser.
Speaking of diffusing the light, often cloudy days will be the best days for photos because of the even lighting that clouds provide.
Clouds are nature’s diffuser and help to ward off the harsh light. (unless you’re going for a harsh light picture like this one.)
So, don’t worry if there are a few clouds in the sky.
2. Bounce the Light Back
A simple whiteboard or even a piece of paper can help bounce back hard shadows.
A bounce board is a white or silver reflector that will bounce light back onto your scene, which helps to lighten your shadows.
Place the board directly opposite your light source to lighten deep shadows for a light and airy look. Here’s an example:
You can also use this technique in the opposite way for moody pictures. By using a black bounce board (black piece of card) the card will absorb light, stopping it from bouncing back onto your subject, creating deeper, darker shadows.
In this image below, not only did I use a darker board behind my picture, but I also used a dark board opposite my light source.
3. Set your white balance to Auto
Have you ever noticed that your pictures look kind of blue or yellow? Certain light (such as fluorescent) can cause objects in your image to look warmer (orange) or cooler (blue).
This is why I set my camera phone and DSLR’s white balance to Auto, even when shooting in manual mode. That way, the camera will analyse the light you’ve got available and apply the right settings to get the perfect white balance.
The reason I dont fuss too much with white balance is that fixing WB problems in editing is relatively easy.
If you do have a photo that is too blue or too orange, then simply adjust the temperature sliders in lightroom or SnapSeed.
Here is an example of an image from a friend that I fixed in SnapSeed that was too blue. (Image credit: Tamryn Seopela)
4. Don’t be afraid to shoot in Harsh Light
Certain pictures can look great in some direct light, such as portraits, drinks, jewellery, and tablescapes.
Here are some examples.
That’s it for today, and next up I will be teaching you about camera settings.
Please let me know in the comments below if you found this article interesting or if you have any questions you’d like to ask about How to Blog Better with Natural Light.